Friday, February 21, 2014

Short Term 12




Written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, Short Term 12 is the story about a young foster-care facility supervisor for young teens as she deals with her own issues in her life while becoming attached to a troubled young girl. The film explores the world of parentless children who are trying to find a family as it’s told from the perspective of a young woman who was also a foster child as she deals with the world that these young kids are going into. Starring Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Rami Malek, Stephanie Beatriz, and Melora Walters. Short Term 12 is a touching yet powerful film from Destin Daniel Cretton.

The film is a simple story about a young woman who supervises a foster-care center for young kids as she deals with her own issues as well as a new arrival in a young girl whom she connects with. While she has a boyfriend who also works at the place as he does the same thing she does while showing a new employee how to do things. The two also deal with a kid who is about to turn 18 as he is reluctant to leave the facility as he becomes angrier. All of which plays into a woman trying to be there for these kids as they’ve been abused, abandoned, or somewhere where they don’t have a home to go to. All of which is largely told from the perspective of its protagonist Grace (Brie Larson) who knows what these kids go through as she and her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr.) both were raised in foster care.

Destin Daniel Cretton’s screenplay does contain a lot of dialogue including a few funny monologues that Mason has whenever he’s trying to prepare his new co-worker Nate (Rami Malek) about what to expect and how to connect with these kids. Especially as Nate has to be careful about what he says which would relate to the very moody Marcus (Keith Stanfield) who is set to leave but doesn’t want to. When Jayden (Kaitlyn Dever) arrives as she is only supposed to stay briefly until her father can return from a business trip. Grace is connected to her as she learns about Jayden and her moodiness as Grace seems to know what Jayden is going through which relates to Grace’s own past which she is trying to not to reveal to anyone including Mason. It all plays to the drama as it starts off as something light-hearted with some heavy drama while the third act becomes more intense as it relates to Grace’s past as well as how much she cares for the kids.

Cretton’s direction is very simple in the way he presents the film as it’s mostly shot on location with a few sets in California. Much of it has Cretton going for a hand-held style which is very engaging as the film opens with Grace and Marcus running after a boy who constantly runs away only to get captured. Cretton does go for some unique framing devices in the way he maintains an intimacy between characters that includes some striking medium and wide shots. Even the use of close-ups are intriguing in the way Cretton tells the story as it all plays to the drama as well as the sense of restraint that Grace is holding on to as she eventually becomes ravaged by her past and her attempts to repress it. All of which play into the film’s third as the direction becomes more intense in the drama while not going overly sentimental or into very heavy melodrama. Overall, Cretton creates a very captivating and mesmerizing film about a young woman trying to help young foster-care kids deal with the world.

Cinematographer Brett Pawlak does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography in maintaining a very naturalistic look for many of the film‘s day interior and exterior scenes while using some lights for the film‘s nighttime interior and exterior scenes. Editor Nat Sanders does fantastic work with the editing where it is straightforward in some cases while has a flair of style in its use of jump-cuts, montages, and some slow-motion shots to play into some of the drama. Production designer Rachel Meyers and art director Grace Alie do amazing work with the look of the facility Grace and Mason work at with different decorations for the look of some of the kids who live at the place.

Costume designers Joy Cretton and Mirren Gordon-Crozier do wonderful work with the film‘s clothes where it‘s mostly casual to play into the world the characters live in. Sound designer Onalee Blank and co-sound editor Braden Spencer do superb work with the film‘s sound from the way things sound at the facility as well as some of the places outside of the facility. The film’s music by Joel P West is terrific as it’s mostly a mixture of indie-folk and ambient music to play into some of the drama that occurs in the film.

The casting by Kerry Barden, Rich Delia, and Paul Schnee is brilliant as it features some notable small roles from Diana-Maria Riva as a nurse Grace meets early in the film, Frantz Turner as Grace and Mason’s boss, Lydia Du Veaux as a young orphaned girl named Kendra, Alex Calloway as the boy Sammy who constantly runs away and likes to play with small dolls, Kevin Hernandez as the teenager Luis, Stephanie Beatriz as the supervisor Jessica, and Melora Walters as Grace’s therapist Dr. Hendler. Keith Stanfield is excellent as the 17-year old Marcus who is reluctantly to leave the facility as he starts to lash out. Rami Malek is terrific as the new facility worker Nate who is trying to learn how things work where he eventually connects with the kids through a very simple act.

Kaitlyn Dever is fantastic as the troubled teenage girl Jayden who didn’t want to go to the facility as she would act out and only express herself through her drawings where she would find someone to talk to in Grace. John Gallagher Jr. is superb as Mason as a fellow supervisor who always talk to the kids as he’s always got something funny to say as he is very close to Marcus whom he can be very trusting to. Finally, there’s Brie Larson in an absolutely phenomenal performance as Grace where Larson puts in a lot of energy as well as emotional weight to a young woman who understands these young kids as she can talk to them while dealing with her own issues as it’s really a total break-out performance for Larson.

Short Term 12 is a remarkable film from Destin Daniel Cretton that features a tremendous break-out performance from Brie Larson. Along with an excellent supporting cast and strong stories about taking of care of orphaned children. It’s a film that explores a world where children can confide in people who know what they’re going through as they reveal that some adults have a hard time figuring things out as well. In the end, Short Term 12 is a sensational film from Destin Daniel Cretton.

© thevoid99 2014

6 comments:

Brittani Burnham said...

Great review! I want to see this soooooooooooooooooooooooooo badly. I've had it at the top of my Netflix queue forever, and I keep getting skipped over because it's on "very long wait." I swear I'm going to find the person who's hoarding this DVD and punch them in the face.

thevoid99 said...

I don't have Netflix and don't plan on using it. I just did what others do which is to look for torrents and download the film. That's what I did.

Brittani Burnham said...

I'm so afraid of downloading torrents. That has totally bitten me in the ass in the past.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-do you have anti-virus? I would recommend Norton 360. That's what I use as it's helped me deal with bad torrents and such.

Dan Heaton said...

As you know, I'm also a big fan of Short Term 12, and you do a great job summarizing why it works so well. It's a contained story in terms of the setting yet feels so essential and powerful.

thevoid99 said...

@Dan Heaton-It was a big surprise in how real it was but also in the fact that everyone was pretty natural as well as giving some truth about how children are in tough situations.